Seen a property for sale? Think it could be the one?
A property viewing gives you the chance to dig deeper.
If there are any inconvenient truths the seller doesn’t want to disclose, do your best to find them out. It's a large sum of money you're considering parting with, after all!
To try and help, we've put together some questions to ask when viewing a house.
What to ask when viewing a house
When viewing a property, it’s easy to get distracted. Make sure you leave no stone unturned!
From the seller to the estate agent, you can gain a lot of information from the different people involved in the house sale. So, your list of house viewing questions can never be too long!
You'll want to ensure you're armed with as much knowledge about the property, and its surrounding area, before you buy. Leave no room for withheld information or omitted details.
The importance of property questions
Unsure how to view a house? Whether it’s your first-time viewing a property or not, the key is to get as many details as possible.
Things to ask when viewing a house include questions about the property structure, the asking price and the surrounding area. Never rush into making an offer before gathering all the necessary information.
Particularly if this is your second viewing of a property, the answers you receive will determine whether or not you choose to go ahead with the sale.
Don’t be made to feel like you’re prying! You’re potentially about to make the biggest investment of your life, so you’ll want to know as much about it as possible.
Questions to ask at a property viewing
So, now it's time to delve a little deeper into the things you should be watching out for at a viewing.
It can be tough to know what to look for when viewing a property! First-time buyers in particular might not be aware of all the different elements to consider.
Plus, from sellers to estate agents, the questions to ask at a house viewing vary.
Since there are so many things to consider, we’ve broken it down for you:
Questions to ask the seller
When it comes to the seller, focus on their personal experience of living there.
If you’re lucky enough to meet the seller (not every seller wants to be there when potential buyers are looking around their house) be ready with your list of questions that only they can know the answers to.
If a seller seems unwilling or reluctant to answer any questions, this should send some alarm bells ringing. However, they are legally required to disclose all information - if you ask for it.
Some questions include:
- Why are you selling your house?
- Have you done any renovations? If so, are there certificates for the work?
- If you were staying, is there any building work you would have considered doing?
- Have you found somewhere to move to?
- Are there any nuisance noisy neighbours who live nearby?
- What are the best and worst bits about living in the property?
- Have there been any problems with the property when it comes to its structure?
- Why did the previous owners leave?
Questions to ask estate agents
The estate agent will have some insider knowledge on the property, so don’t be afraid to ask them the questions you would pose to the seller. Just don’t expect them to have all the answers. However, here are some ‘buying a house questions’ that they should know the answers to:
- How long has the property been on the market?
- Has anyone made an offer on the property yet?
- If so, what was the offer and why was it turned down?
- How did you arrive at the asking price?
- Have you sold any other properties in the area? If so, what did they sell for?
- How many offers has the seller had so far?
- How long have the owners lived there?
Questions about the property itself
It’s a good idea to research the area surrounding the property, as well as the property itself. You can find many of the answers to these questions online. But, it might help if you walk around the neighbourhood, or at least visit the property at different times of the day.
This should help you find out answers to questions such as:
- Is the property in a conservation area?
- Is there any off-street parking?
- If parking is all on-street, how easy is it to get a spot and what does it cost?
- How busy is the road?
- How much does the property cost to run? (Utility bills and council tax etc.)
- Have any insurance claims been made relating to the property itself? If so, what were they for?
- How much did the property last sell for? And when?
- Have prices gone up sharply in the area or down? Is there a reason for this?
- Which way does the property face?
- Is it energy efficient?
Questions about the area the property is in
We’ve all now heard the phrase ‘location, location, location’. It’s true - it is all about location! When buying a home, researching the local area is essential.
You could have the most fantastic property, but if it’s on the worst street, you won’t enjoy living there.
It’s better to have the worst property on the best street, because you can always add value through refurbishments.
Questions to ask during a house viewing include:
- What are the local facilities like?
- How good are the transport links?
- What shops are nearby?
- How good are the local restaurants?
- Are there any good pubs nearby?
- Which schools are the property in the catchment area for?
- What are the local crime statistics like?
- What leisure facilities are nearby?
- Are there any parks, playgrounds, leisure centres, sports clubs etc?
Questions to ask when viewing a flat
Purchasing a leasehold property, such as a flat or apartment, should be something you enter into with your eyes wide open. Once you have agreed to the terms of the lease, there is little room for negotiation afterwards.
Do your homework and find out as much as you can about the lease and the freeholder beforehand. The last thing you want, after spending so much money on a property, is discovering that there are serious works that need doing to the property.
Ensure you ask:
- Who owns the freehold?
- How long is left to run on the lease?
- If it’s a shorter lease length, what would be the cost of extending it?
- What are the annual costs i.e. service charge and/or ground rent?
- When were the common areas last refurbished?
- Are there any works planned for the near future?
- Are other flats lived in by tenants or owner occupiers?
- What’s the parking situation? Is there any at all?
- Do you have access to any storage space, such as an attic?
- How often are maintenance works carried out on the building?
- Does everyone in the block split the cost of repairs equally? If not, who pays what?
- Are you allowed pets?
- Is there a lift?
- Who is the managing agent?
- How good is the sound proofing?
This might seem like a lot of information to gather, but you need to ask these questions. You have to garner as much information as possible, because it is a lot of money that you could potentially end up wasting.
Questions to ask when buying a house
If you’ve gathered all the necessary answers to the questions mentioned above, and the property seems right for you, it’s time to get the ball rolling on buying it!
But, the questioning is far from over! Time to double check a few details:
Here are some things to ask when buying a house:
- What’s the deal with fixtures and fittings? What’s included in the sale, and what’s being taken?
- Is the seller in a chain?
- What’s the minimum price the seller will accept?
- Is there room to negotiate the house price?
- How much is the council tax?
- How much are the utility bills in the area?
- Is anyone else interested in the property?
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are some important questions to ask before buying a house. You’re about to part with a huge about of money, so ensure you know everything about the property.
What to do when viewing a house to buy
We understand that it can be tough to know what to ask when buying a house. So, if it helps, put together a questions to ask when buying a house checklist, and tick them off as you go!
This should include all the ones with discussed, plus any extras you think of when you’re there. Every property is different, so you might notice something during the house viewing that you need more details about. This could be both inside and outside.
It's worth noting down the answers to important questions, such as any major maintenance works that are required. Particularly if you’re viewing more than one property at the same time, it helps to have a record!
A viewing checklist might sound extreme - but you can never be too thorough.
If you’re buying a new house, it’s important to do as much research as possible. While it’s important to ask certain questions, a property report will be able to give a full and detailed picture of an area, for example information on local schools and crime rates. Get a property report below.